When a two-syllable word has a single consonant in the middle of two vowels, which syllable does the consonant go with?
Usually the consonant goes with the second syllable. This forms a first syllable with a long vowel and a second syllable that is either CVC or CVCe. The first syllable which ends with a long vowel is called an open syllable. Some examples include:
Sometimes these words have a one-syllable, stand-alone word as the first syllable. Or they have a prefix as the first syllable. Helping students to recognize this tiny word or prefix can help them to pronounce the word correctly. Some words like this include:
Some students get mixed up if the first syllable is a single vowel. They want to put the middle consonant with the first syllable instead of with the second. If this happens, ask the child to pronounce the word both ways. Usually one way will make sense and one won’t unless the child is not familiar with the word. Some words like this include:
I recommend teaching children words with a single consonant between syllables after they have learned words with two middle consonants. The latter are easier to learn because children more easily spot the CVC + CVC pattern.
One warning: Many words beginning with the letter “a” follow the letter pattern just mentioned, but the “a” is not pronounced as a long vowel. “Alive,” “along,” “awake,” “atone” and “apart” and dozens of other “a” words pronounce the “a” as “uh.” Save them for a separate lesson.
Figuring out how to pronounce words with two or more separated vowels can be a problem. However, there are guidelines which often help.
If a word has two consonants of the same letter in the middle of the word, the split into syllables happens between the two consonants. These words are easy to segment and to pronounce. Words like this include
If a word has two different middle consonants preceded by and followed by short vowels, the split into syllables usually happens between the two consonants. Usually the vowel sound to the left of the double consonants is short because the first syllable creates a CVC “word,” and the syllable after the split is short for the same reason. Words like this include
Sometimes in the middle of a two-syllable word are three consonants composed of a consonant and a blend or a blend and a consonant. The three consonants are preceded and followed by a single vowel. The split into syllables happens before or after the blend, in such a way as to keep the blend together. Usually these words contain short vowels before and after the split. Words like this include
All of these two-syllable words have certain features in common which make pronunciation easy:
- they have either two consonants or one consonant and a blend in the middle of the word,
- and they have a single vowel preceding and following the middle consonants.
- The first vowel is a short vowel, and usually the second vowel is short also if it is followed by a single consonant or a blend.
But what if there is only one consonant between two vowels? Does the consonant go with the first vowel or the second? It depends. We’ll talk about that soon.